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So why would people persecute Quakers, anyway?

I'm almost done with Paul Tillich's A History of Christian Thought, and had an unexpected encounter with Quakerism in a discussion of Friedrich Schleiermacher, an 18th- and 19th-century theologian:

The first radical and fundamental apologetic statement made by Schleiermacher is the following. The unity with God, participation in him, is not a matter of immortal life after death; it is not a matter of accepting a heavenly lawgiver; instead it is a matter of present participation in eternal life.

This is decisive. Here he follows the fourth Gospel. The classical German philosophers called this the true Gospel, not because they thought this Gospel contained, historically speaking, reliable reports about Jesus—very soon they learned this was not the case at all—but because the Gospel of John came closest to expressing principles which could overcome the conflict between rationalist and supernaturalism. This idea that eternal life is here and now, and not a continuation of life after death, is one of the main points they stressed. It is participation before time, in time, and after time, and that also means beyond time.

The same criticism turned against all mediators between God and man. The principle of identity and all mysticism were always very dangerous for the hierarchical systems, for priestly mediation between God and man. This was the case both in Catholicism and Protestantism. The Protestant Churches were just as hostile as the Roman Church was to the mystical groups, to the Quakers, for example, in whom the principle of identity was affirmed in some way. They were suspicious of mysticism because it offered men the possibility of immediate unity with the divine apart from the mediation of the church.

So Schleiermacher reacted against priests and authorities; they were not necessary, because everybody is called to become a priest and to be filled with the divine Spirit. From this point of view, you can understand the resistance of the church against all spirit-movements, against the movements in which the individual is immediate to God, and driven by the Spirit himself. You can also understand the reason for the subjection of the Spirit, wherever it appears, to the letter of the Bible. The Reformers who originally fought against the Roman Church in the power of the Spirit soon had great difficulties of their own in the struggle against the spirit-movements of the Reformation period. It is a good thing that there were countries like Great Britain, the Netherlands, and America to which these representatives could flee from the severe persecutions of both the Roman and Reformation Churches. (396)

Of course, Great Britain and Massachusetts both persecuted Quakers for much of the 17th century, and Quakers were viewed with suspicion for a long while by many more traditional Protestants and Catholics. In general, though, I think Tillich (or perhaps Schleiermacher) makes some clear points here which echo the early Quaker experience directly. This is why George Fox wanted to call people out of steeplehouses, and why he was (along with many others) beaten and imprisoned for it.